tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 20 15:55:51 2002

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Re: Klingon WOTD: wagh (v)

> > Of course, I'm certain people have already pointed this out.  What I'm not
> > sure of is if there was ever a concensus reached that a construction like
> > "lo'laHchoH" is actually acceptable; personally I'd be inclined to
> > reconfigure it to "lo'choHlaH" just to be safe, but occasionally it would
> > be useful to say things like "chenmoHmoH" ("cause to create") which would
> > not otherwise be at all legal...

>I don't have the HolQeD reference handy, but Marc Okrand has stated that
>/lo'laH/ "be valuable" is an exceptional word, in that it is not just /lo'/
>+ /-laH/ but is, in fact, a distinct word without suffixes.  You CAN say
>/lo'laHchoH/ "begin to be valuable."  You can also say /lo'choHlaH/, but
>that means "begin to be able to use" or "able to begin to use."

Okrand discussed it on the old 
newsgroup.  Here's the full text of that message for those interested:


From: Marc Okrand <...>
Date: November 30, 1997
Subject: Re: chenmoH, ja'chuq, etc.

Neal wrote...
 >Are entries in the dictionaries which are verbs with an attached suffix,
 >such as <chenmoH>=create (v) and <ja'chuq>=discuss (v), words in themselves?
 >Or are they merely examples of usage, as I suspect? (With the exception of
 >In other words, do we say <*vIchenmoHnIS> or <vIchennISmoH> for "I need to
 >create it"? Can we say <ja'chuqlu'> and if so, what does it mean?
 >(Considering that <-chuq> and <-lu'> have contradictory prefix requirements,
 >it seems unlikely if <ja'chuq> is merely <ja'> plus <-chuq>.)

This is one of those answers that starts off being simple and then gets

For the most part, entries in The Klingon Dictionary (and also in the
addendum in Klingon For the Galactic Traveler) that consist of verb +
suffix are indeed just that, verb + suffix.  For example, one entry in the
Dictionary is pujmoH "weaken."  This is really puj "be weak" and the
suffix -moH "cause" (thus "weaken" is "cause to be weak").  Since -moH is
a Type 4 suffix, if a suffix of Type 1, 2, or 3 is to be used (such as
-chuq "each other" [Type 1] or -nIS "need" [Type 2]), it would precede the
Type 4 -moH; for example, pujchuqmoH "they weaken each other" or pujnISmoH
"he/she needs to weaken [somebody]."

It is, of course, possible to add the suffix -moH to lots of verbs; not all
of the verb + -moH combinations are listed in the Dictionary as distinct
entries.  The ones that are listed are there as much as a matter of
convenience for the user as anything else.  For example, there is an entry
for "commit suicide" just in case anyone wants to look that word up; but the
Klingon equivalent is simply HoH'egh, literally "kill oneself" (HoH "kill"
plus Type 1 verb suffix -'egh "oneself").  The absence of a verb + -moH
entry in the Dictionary lists does not mean that that particular formation
cannot be made.

The same goes for the negative suffixes -Ha' and -be' which, along with
-moH, are the most common verb suffixes found in the Dictionary lists
(except for -wI' "one who is/does," but that doesn't enter into any of
this since it's always last in a string of verb suffixes).  Since the
negative suffixes are Rovers, they follow different rules.  (Well,
actually, since -Ha' always occurs right after the verb and can never be
preceded by suffixes anyway, it can be excluded from this discussion.) The
Rover -be' comes right after whatever it is negating.  Both Qochbe'nIS
"he/she/they need to not disagree" (that is, "he/she/they need to agree")
and QochnISbe' "he/she/they do not need to disagree" are acceptable
Klingon formations.  The fact that the Dictionary lists Qochbe' "agree"
(that is, literally, "not disagree") does not mean that no suffix may
precede the -be'.  It's in there so that someone can easily look up how to
say "agree."

So far so good, I think.

A problem comes in because some of these forms (that is, some of these
verb + suffix combinations) are so common, they seem to, in the minds of
some Klingons anyway, act as if they were simply verb and not verb +
suffix at all.  This seems to happen only when the suffix in question is
-moH "cause."  Maltz reports having heard both quv'eghmoH "he/she honors
him/herself," which follows the expected order (verb-Type 1-Type 4: quv
"be honored," -'egh "oneself," -moH "cause") as well as the weird
quvmoH'egh "he/she honors him/herself," in which the Type 1 suffix -'egh
"oneself"  follows the Type 4 suffix -moH "cause," an impossible formation
unless the speaker is considering the verb to be quvmoH "honor" and not
quv "be honored."  Speakers who do this seem to be aware that they are
breaking the rules, so they are doing it for rhetorical effect.  (It has
the same sort of feeling, perhaps, as if someone were to say in English
"Don't cellular phone me this afternoon" or "I've been postnasal dripping
all morning" or "It's lightninging and thundering outside" or, to follow
the Klingon example, "He/she self-honors.")  If this sort of thing happens
a lot, maybe, in time, the language will undergo some sort of reformation;
maybe -moH will become a Rover.  Or quvmoH and similar forms will become
simple (though two-syllable)  verbs.  But neither is the case yet, and
while some speakers of Klingon may treat them as such, the wisest course
is to leave such things to the poets and keep -moH in its Type 4 position.

On the other hand, you're right about lo'laH "be valuable."  It is a simple
verb in its own right (though it's an unusual two-syllable one), not the
verb lo' "use" plus Type 5 suffix -laH "can."  It is likely that there is
some sort of historical connection to the verb + suffix form, but, if so, it
is just that -- historical.

Thus, finally and at long last, to answer your first specific question, say
vIchennISmoH for "I need to create it."

I'll try to answer your second question, about ja'chuq, in a separate


Voragh                            "All the meaning is in the context."
Ca'Non Master of the Klingons           (Ilya Kabakov, Russian artist)

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